This was originally going to be a series of posts — every day of Sci-Fi on the Rock 11 was it’s own mini-event that deserved chronicling. However, as the title implies, I’ve been a little under the weather. As of today it’s been a week since the con started, and I really don’t want to wait any longer. So I’m going to try and get it all on record. 🙂
So, as a bit of preamble, I’m kind of known among my friends for my immune system. When my friends have children that are sick, I get the call: because I won’t catch it. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ve always reveled in it with the utmost glee… that is, until I met Heather Reilly’s youngest daughter, an adorable red-head with a perpetually runny nose. I was sitting for them the week before the con, and caught something that resulted in a 103-degree fever for about 48 un-fun hours.
That was Wave One. Wave Two was that, while recovering and my immune system was down, I apparently caught something else — I believe from the same Reilly child, we’re not sure. In any event, this most recent biological attack on us from Reilly Books resulting in an extreme cold and laryngitis… that started attacking my voice on April 27. You know, the day of our book launch for Fantasy from the Rock, the event we’ve been planning for a year to celebrate 10 years of Engen Books.
I muddled through the launch by drinking water every 30 seconds, as shown on our first livestream, but by the first day of the convention my voice was 100% out. I don’t mean it hurt to talk, I mean I couldn’t talk. I was resorting to sign language with the only other speaker I know, Heather, and letting her translate to my staff.
So then, Friday night, myself and Heather, Paul Carberry, Erin Vance, Amanda Labonté, and Sam Bauer had to speak at another event I’ve been planning for over a year: the 10th Anniversary Most Dysfunctional Writing Panel Ever. Or, the Decidedly Functional Writing Panel as it should have been called, because Matthew couldn’t talk. I resorted to interpretive dance at one point, because even with the aid of a microphone my voice couldn’t be understood. Eventually I gave up and started bringing the microphone around to our active audience to ask questions of our panel, which went very well.
Except of course that I’d been using that same microphone, and most of you can see where this is going. There’s a phenomenon at conventions called “Con Plague,” which is a name for the fact that with so many people crammed into such a small environment, illness can travel easily. Usually there is debate as to who is “Patient Zero” every year. There’s no debate this year. It’s me. Or possibly the youngest Reilly child. But probably me.
By the end of the con I think just about every had caught the Matt LeDrew Con-Plague of Death, as it shall now be called. What’s worse, because I tried so often to strain my voice, I still haven’t totally recovered.
But on a serious note: this weekend it re-learned that I have an amazing team. Ellen Curtis and Erin Vance did an amazing job executing the Fantasy from the Rock launch, and they did a tremendous job picking up the slack of my sickness over the entire weekend. Sam Bauer was also a wonderful help at the Engen table, the Mirth table, Gold and Steel, and Reilly Books. Young Mr. Bauer is proving himself to be an indispensable asset of the independent publishing world. Amanda Labonté and Paul Carberry also excelled at helping customers and being personable at our table, proving themselves to be the assets at Engen Books that I knew they would be.
We sold out of 4 titles during the weekend, including Fantasy from the Rock. 🙂 And we heard from so many fans and people coming up in the industry now that want to work with us… one young entrepreneur told me that, in her group, Engen Books was the ‘Gold standard’ of publishers in the province, one of the places you hope to work with one day… that kind of talk is humbling and unexpected to Ellen, Erin and I, but it is very much appreciated and we hope to earn that growing reputation in the next 10 years and beyond. 🙂
Thank you all for a wonderful convention! We’ve got more surprises planned for our 10th Year, so stay tuned for more as we lead in to our second half! ❤